Recfishwest’s position on mandatory wearing of lifejackets while fishing from rocks

Updated: April 2018

We believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing – whether it be in a boat, in a kayak or from rocks. Recfishwest believes everyone should wear lifejackets when appropriate and look after their own personal safety when fishing from rocks.

Recfishwest currently does not support legislation mandating the wearing of lifejackets while fishing from rocks. We will consider the compulsory wearing of lifejackets under certain circumstances and certain locations, however we do not believe a State-wide blanket approach is appropriate.

We believe education offers greater long term positive safety outcomes than legislation.

Education Not Legislation

Recfishwest would rather people understand why they need to wear a jacket and choose to wear one vs having to wear one because they are scared of getting a fine!

Recfishwest are champions of fishing safety having a strong track record of activities aimed at keeping fishers safe. We believe everyone should return home safe after a day’s fishing. Recfishwest strongly advocate that those who fish from exposed rocky shorelines should wear appropriate lifejackets, nevertheless we believe the choice to wear a lifejacket when fishing from the rocks should remain that of individual fishers. In the past 16 years (2002 – 2018) on average less than two lives each year have been lost across WA’s 12,000km of coastline due to fishing from rocks. We believe the acceptable number should be ‘0’ lives lost and we will continue be proactive in the promotion of lifejackets for everyone!

WA has extensive and highly diverse coastal locations and a large range of conditions where fishing occurs. We believe well informed fishers are in the best position to make decisions about their own personal safety.

A blanket State-wide approach enforcing mandatory wearing of lifejackets upon those who choose to fish from rocks is inappropriate and implementation of any mandatory program would be complex and problematic. *These complexities are currently being explored.

In jurisdictions where the use of lifejackets when fishing from rocks has been mandated (New South Wales), perverse outcomes placing fishers at greater risk has resulted. Educating the fishing public about the advancements of new slimline lifejackets and empowering them to make informed decisions offers greater long term positive safety outcomes than legislation.

Recfishwest along with partners work hard to educate fishers through the provision of quality safety information aimed at changing behaviour. This information allows people to make better decisions. Education is supported with improved access to fishing safety equipment such as angel rings, rock anchor points and free-loan slimline lifejackets at high risk locations.

Recfishwest believes fishers must ultimately take responsibility for their own personal safety.

Recfishwest will continue to promote safe fishing practises and provide the community with the right tools and information to make an informed decision so they can return home safe.

Here are some examples of the work we do to help ensure West Aussies return home safe after a days fishing:

  • Oversee WA’s State-wide Angel Ring program, with 66 Angel Rings being installed by land managers;
  • Oversee the State-wide Free Life Jacket Loan Scheme – provision of over 160 Free lifejackets for loan across 21 locations;
  • Development and printing of 40,000 rock fishing flyers – interpreted into 11 languages;
  • The Recfishwest Fish and Survive Website – providing fishing safety information to WA fishers;
  • Partnership with WA’s Department of Transport State-wide ‘Old for New’ lifejacket program;
  • Partnering with Fisheries and Surf Life Saving WA around Abalone Fishing Safety;
  • Presenting safety messaging at our 50 yearly State-wide family fishing clinics (reaching more than 2,000 families each year);
  • Funding and promotion of the ‘Bluewater Freedivers Safety Float’;
  • Funding and support for shallow water blackout training for freedivers;
  • Specific lifejacket focus at the Perth International Boat Show and other shows (Perth Caravan and Camping Show, Mandurah Boat Show etc.);
  • Lifejacket presentations and information nights at State-wide fishing and sailing clubs;
  • Development of lifejacket safety videos;
  • Targeted campaigns with stakeholder and government agencies;
  • Active member on the WA Department of Transport’s External Reference Group for the review of ‘Safety Equipment on Recreational Safety Vessels’;
  • Promote fishing safety to the WA fishing public though:
    • Recfishwest’s monthly e-newsletter Broadcast, which is Australia’s largest digital fishing publication and has more than 73,000 recipients;
    • WA’s largest weekly Statewide Recfishwest Fishing Reports with more than 9,000 recipients (from Kununurra to Esperance);
    • WA’s only fishing rules App (with more than 3.8million screen views in the past 12 months); and
    • Radio and local media.

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